Respecting home’s heritage by rejecting clichés
IT is rare and refreshing to view a renovation that does not conform to the open-area concept that has become a modern cliché. Homes renovated in the first decades of the 21st century will be known for their conspicuous lack of divider walls, including load-bearing ones replaced by engineered beams. The result is a minimalist dwelling that integrates family, dining, and living rooms as well as a colossal kitchen with a granite island the size of Manhattan. As author Mark Helprin says in Freddy and Fredericka, “I wonder where in the world there is a hole big enough to swallow all the granite countertops that in a few years will be marching out of kitchens like an army of the dead.” It was, therefore, a delight to be invited into Brenda Koch-Schulte’s home built in the RM of St. Andrews by her husband’s father, Joseph Koch-Schulte. “My father-in-law, one of 13 children, and one of his brothers moved to Manitoba from Westphalia in 1929. They lived in Little Britain with a large group of Germans who had come to raise dairy cattle and farm the land.” Joseph and his brother settled just north of the town of Petersfield and erected a two-room dwelling, which, by 1934, had grown into a 2½-storey home situated on a lovely parcel of land between present-day Highway 8 and Highway 9. Joseph’s wife, Clara, joined him in Canada while the house was being completed. They raised a family and farmed the land for many years. The Westphalia tradition of Schutzenfest or the Rifleman’s Meeting is still celebrated today at an annual festival held in Little Britain, said Koch-Schulte, a Scottish immigrant who met her husband in 1970 while they were both teaching at Peguis First Nation. In 1970, they were married and two years later moved to the original family farm near Petersfield where they operated a mixed farm, including beef cattle, feeder hogs, grains and oilseeds. Over the years, they hosted 15 young people from Japan and France who experienced farming first-hand. The couple has three children who, when they were old enough, pitched in by building barns, feeding animals and harvesting crops. “We were fortunate to own such a big house,” said Koch-Schulte. Her husband added a beautiful sunroom to the south elevation before he passed away in the first decade of this century. The room features four floor-toceiling windows, which look out on a front yard dominated by an enormous Manitoba maple tree that was just beginning its life when the house was built. Adjacent to the sunroom is a screened three-season porch positioned to catch the predominant west wind. A small dining area raised a couple of steps above the sunroom has original furniture including an oak dining table and six matching chairs, a walnut sideboard, a Queen Anne-style
The completely renovated exterior of the Koch-Schulte house.